Kampala – Emmanuel Wabwire 30 is a budding social entrepreneur who prides himself in uplifting the less privileged in society by helping to make their lives better by imparting in them social entrepreneurship skills that has helped many people including men and women inclusive, to have some financial cushion through business startups.
He spoke to Moses Oketayot and shared his life’s journey through and through and also his ideal woman.
DP: Who is Emmanuel Wabwire?
Well I was born in Mbale referral hospital in 1990, in a humble family. My father was a public servant in the Uganda Police for over thirty years. He recently passed way; may his soul rest in peace.
I am a Mugishu from Mbale but our ancestral land is in Manafwa district currently after it was curved out of Mbale.
DP: Professionally lay it bare; what do you do for a living?
I am a social entrepreneur, philanthropist and a leader through advocacy, lobbying and management. In terms of leadership, I have been a youth leader from when I can remember. I was a class monitor in kindergarten, head boy in secondary, served as treasurer of the Red Cross youth council in my S.6 vacation and I was guild president of Uganda Christian University (UCU), Uganda National Students Association (UNSA), among many other positions.
Notably, I worked with the former prime minister of Uganda John Patrick Amama Mbabazi when he also doubled as the Secretary General of NRM party at the time. Of course at some point we were fought (2015) and I put a small pause on partisan politics and focused on actual youth advocacy which is one of the things that I am really passionate about. I also joined UNESCO and I was elected as the national youth chairman, where I rallied for quality and free education for the youth, and currently serving my second and last term and about to hand over.
I also championed world heritage all over Uganda and in Africa, where I was nominated under the African world heritage fund to be an ambassador in the Anglophone region covering 26 countries in Africa.
In 2011 through the Internal award for young Africans helping each other, a program that was pioneered by the Duke of Edinburgh; now the late, I spearheaded a campaign with my team where we fundraised over shs168m for needy students and some other non-cash donations. The monies were used to offer scholarships for students to study here on the continent and abroad to do exchange programs in various universities in the common wealth member countries through the International development students society organization (IDSS).
DP: Tell us about your short attempt into politics in 2015.
At the time all things were well until the tables turned when the secretary general of the party Amama Mbabazi was sacked from both positions of Prime Minister. Things didn’t go well for all of us at that time and we started from ground zero after spending out every penny we had after losing the national youth MP for Eastern Uganda.
DP: Tell us about the genesis of Faraja foundation.
After losing the election, my team and I felt that young people are used and dumped. They are used to being given handouts, to campaign and at the end of the day we are ‘collateral damage’.
So there was a lot of outcry among the young people like the challenges of unemployment, having ideas without financial resources, lack of a suitable working environment for the youth among others cutting across the continent.
There was also the problem of the failure to relate with our counterparts from our counterparts from the west, in that Africa had its own level of sufferings as compared to the developed countries. For them they have actual structures and their systems work, especially pertaining the minimum wage for instance someone in the west works for a minimum of USD20 per hour, compared to us here even though the standards of living may differ in both cases.
Faraja Africa means ‘comfort Africa. Instead of crying, why not look for a solution. So it for capacity building, economic empowerment, social engagement and working to strengthen the gaps that exists in the systems we have like the National Youth council, UNSA e.tc
To strengthen the foundation we maintained the youth camps which were helping to generate income. We also ventured into technology and communication through digital story telling which helps the foundation to run its day to day activities.
We started initially from Uganda but now we are on the east African region as we speak. We also handle the national youth and regional youth parliament in partnership with the EAC member countries parliament for the past four years. We also do community youth dialogues in villages and town halls across the country.
DP: How many people have been economically empowered so far by the foundation?
Every year, we roll out 100 young entrepreneurs but the money is from our social enterprise. 70% of the money is from our capacity to do safaris, digital storytelling and all that.
We also realized recently that there is a media gap in championing the youth agenda especially on television. The youth are only invited on youth days and other days. So we started the youth TV in August 2020 after holding the youth parliament when no media house accepted our shs10m for a live broadcast.
They charged us over shs50m for a two hour airtime, which money was paid by the partners of the youth parliament. So we needed a youth TV that would tell authentic African young stories for young people, currently in Uganda but in the next ten years we will expanded in Kenya and other African countries.
Currently we are online but we plan to go mainstream in the next two years with a frequency so that the youth can be fully catered for through our youth-oriented programming like mental health, startups, youth news among others.
DP: How has been the online reception of your television?
Currently we have about 43,000 impressions meaning that that number of people view our Youtube channel. We have been having over 10,000 viewers only on Youtube.
We had initially started from Facebook and it had had a good traction compared to the subscription rate on Youtube but the January shutdown affected us as well, and for now we have focused the broadcast on Youtube. Furthermore, our digital advocacy on facebook was greatly affected by the suspension since we used to do facebook live, and the TV is struggling on Youtube because it is very hard to get viewers as compared to the former.
If only the government could reconsider and open it would help a lot. We are not the only ones who are affected because majority of the people about 90% promote their businesses on facebook and with this suspension they are not doing any business since accessibility to numbers and people was easy before. We currently have a team of eight people with four permanent staff and the other four coming in on weekly basis and special occasions.
DP: As a young man under 40 years, what advise do you have for your peers?
I urge the youth to embrace social enterprise model; one of the key things the government is advising the youth to generate income for their selves and also create jobs for others in the end for instance the production and service industry, and migrate from job seeking to job creators.
Personally, I started an organization that failed in its initial stages when I was 21 years, but that didn’t deter me from trying other options that were available and for the last five years I have transformed many people’s lives through life skills and entrepreneurship.
The youth should also embrace subsistence agriculture. I learnt during the lockdown that it is not about white collar jobs because I used to think that farming was very hard but I realized that everything was all about hard work and the time and commitment.
If you have broken focus, you will fail but if you focus whether in good or bad circumstances, you will always get through. As a young person I want to break the norm that we only have to rely on the internet to do what we are doing while we remain stuck in rentals and yet we can own land and be farmers and landlords. Your own money matters more when starting up because it attracts the external monies in the long run.
DP: Any success tip that you have for a young entrepreneur out there?
Lack of life skills like resilience, endurance, tenacy, time and resource management. People think that resources are money but that is not true. Keeping healthy in both body and mind plus transforming information into skills are the cutting edge if the youth are to succeed in their enterprises.
DP: saving the best for last, what is your relationship status, and your ideal woman?
Ideally everyone should know that as a man you need to have a vision and by doing so then you have to get a partner who identifies with that. So my ideal woman is a person who believes in my vision especially in the area of philanthropy and the principles of humility, love and respect for people and society, forgiveness.
Imagine very many people visiting my home, and your wife is inhospitable, it is not about the size of the bums, colour. It’s about that welcoming and calm spirit.
I would also love a woman who is abreast with trends, self discipline and also the element of growth. I don’t expect to have woman who is going to be a stay home wife but one who would chip in when am incapacitated.
She also has to accept the fact that there are times I will work with women who could be more beautiful that her. So the element of a jealous woman is a high risk area.
About my relationship status, yes I am dating and I think she fits in my description of my ideal woman, and we are perfectly in love so those who want to call me please don’t.